It will excite you to know that a total number of 439 rice farmers in Enugu State were weekend empowered by the federal government.
The beneficiaries, drawn from Aninri, Isi-Uzo and Nkanu East LGAs were given seedlings, fertilizers and agrochemicals to boost their yield. The inputs were provided by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) Federal Government Assisted Value Chain Development Programme (VCDP).
Our correspondent reports that Enugu is among the nine states where IFAD VCDP supports farmers engaged in the production, processing, and marketing of rice and cassava only.
The empowerment was organised at Ezinesie Oduma in Aninri LGA, Amede in Isi-Uzo LGA, and Nara/Amaechi Idodo communities in Nkanu East LGA.
The national coordinator, IFAD VCDP, Dr Fatima Aliyu, represented by the human resource adviser of the organisation, Mr Giddado Bello, said the inputs would help the rural farmers whose sources of livelihood were affected by COVID-19 pandemic.
In his words, “To cushion the effect of COVID-19 on farmers in Nigeria, IFAD gave a grant called rural poor stimulus facilities to Nigeria through the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.
“The grant is meant to support vulnerable farmers in VCDP states of Enugu, Anambra, Kogi, Nasarawa, Benue, Niger, Ogun, Ebonyi and Taraba with the aim to sustain production, enhance food security and accelerate their recovery from negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Apart from the agro-inputs, VCDP will also provide extension services to targeted farmers who will also receive training on good agronomic practices, relating to the application of fertilizers, agrochemicals as well as farm management and climate-smart agriculture’.”
The state coordinator, IFAD VCDP, Dr Edward Isiwu, said the benefiaries were first profiled to ensure that they were genuine.
According to him, “These farmers have their own lands. The process started in August last year when we visited all these farmers in their camps; captured them, had their photographs, and validated them on their farms.
“Each farmer will get two bags of fertilizer, a bag of Urea, a bag of 50kg certified Faro 44 rice seedlings and agrochemicals: one selective and one nonselective agrochemical to apply in their farms.”
The state commissioner for agriculture, Dr Matthew Idu, commended Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi for providing counterpart funds for the scheme, and encouraged the farmers to use the inputs judiciously.
A representative of the minister of agriculture, Dr Peter Kush, advised the beneficiaries against diverting the inputs or selling them. He said the monitoring team would be on surveillance to ensure compliance.
The traditional ruler of Ezinesie Oduma, Igwe Daniel Njoku; the traditional ruler of Amechi Idodo, Igwe Patrick Ezenweze; and the traditional ruler of Nara, Igwe Abel Nwobodo, as well as the traditional prime minister of Amede Community were present to witness the exercise.
They commended the government and IFAD VCDP for empowering the farmers, and assured them of the safety and rancour-free process in the distribution of the inputs.
Some of the beneficiaries, Mr Kingsley Odo, Mrs Evelyn Nwaro and Mr Bokuno Onyeabuchukwu thanked IFAD VCDP for the empowerment.
They also gave assurance that they would judiciously utilise the inputs.
The event featured demonstration of the right application of herbicides in rice farms.